Don't Confuse Greatness with Class: Why Michael Jordan Is No Dimaggio

Benny VargasAnalyst IJuly 22, 2010

You're the greatest player of your generation, maybe of all time. You revolutionized the NBA and along with Magic Johnson and Larry Bird managed to transform basketball into a mainstream global sport.

Despite all this greatness on a court you should be the last person to cast a stone. Michael Jordan was a talented basketball player but he's never been a classy person. Joe Dimaggio was a great athlete who personified class. You Mr.Jordan are no Joe Dimaggio.

Frankly you're not even anywhere near as classy as Magic Johnson. You live in a time capsule in which you were the most adored athlete on the planet. Well your "Airness" it's time for you to wake up.

At this moment Jordan is a mediocre director/manager of basketball operations. On top of all that he is also a money hound. Many people are unaware that Jordan "charges Charlotte area businesses an appearance fee to attend community events that promote the club."  

Guess all those endorsement deal contracts weren't enough to sustain you financially for life. Well at least not when you're blowing millions gambling like a degenerate. So now you ask for money just to show up for events aimed at promoting your fledgling franchise.

Jordan had to once pay $108,000.00 to a man convicted for cocaine dealing (Eddie Dow). This on top of losing over one and a quarter million dollars playing golf with Richard Esquinas. Since classy Mike never paid up the debt, Esquinas wrote a book about it. 

Jordan was such a gambling fiend that he was seen at in Atlantic City the evening before a playoff game versus the Knicks losing quite bit of cash. For all his on court success Jordan was running his life a  muck with gambling.

This leads to Jordan's first retirement. He was at the zenith of his career. He had won three straight NBA titles. Then during the off season his father was murdered. Jordan used this as the excuse for retiring. He stated " the biggest gratification, the biggest positive thing that I can take out of my father not being with me here today is that he saw my last basketball game, and that means a lot." Yet two years later he returned to basketball. So much for the heart felt sentimental statement he made.

Many believe that the league forced Jordan in to retirement. They were fed up with all the dirt they had to keep sweeping under the rug. Thus they asked him to leave on hiatus and to get some help for his addiction. Why else would Jordan have said during his retirement speech that he would one day return to the NBA "if David Stern lets me back in the league."

To compound matters Jordan had several reported extra marital affairs. Nothing screams "role model" like sleeping with other women behind your wife's back. Many people were unaware of this because of all the "hush hush" money that Jordan was forking over under the table. Just like his gambling debt Jordan reneged on five million that he had offered to pay one of his mistresses (Karla Knafel).

Jordan's gambling addiction and cheating ways led to his eventual divorce. One in which he had to pay his former wife (Juanita Jordan) a then record $168 million dollars.

Has anyone ever heard of LeBron James having any such problems?

Truth is it pains me to write this because I like many of our readers grew up in an era in which Jordan was the "Real King". I always rooted against him. I hoped the Lakers, Blazers, Suns, Sonics or Jazz (twice) would defeat him. What can I say? I love underdogs. Despite this I recognized that he truly was the best basketball player in the world. It  actually makes me feel dirty to even speak negatively of MJ. 

After finishing his second three peat Jordan retired once again. He left us all with the memorable pose of his final jump shot. It was the perfect image to cap off a marvelous career. But being the genius he is Jordan decided to attempt a comeback in Washington, only to discover the game was quickly passing him by.

In doing so he tainted his image. Not so much his legacy as a player but more so as being invincible.

Jordan was now trying to be not only the brawn of a team as a player but also its brain.

It was a disastrous move and Jordan proved to be a horrible talent evaluator.

He drafted "all time bust" Kwame Brown with the first overall pick in 2001. He could have had Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and many other star players but he went with Kwame.

Jordan then traded Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse. Hamilton blossomed after the trade and remains a solid team player on a Detroit squad that made two NBA Finals, winning one. Stackhouse on the other hand played just two seasons in Washington. Real good value there.

For all his basketball prowess and talent; Jordan, the executive,"failed to establish an environment for success with Washington. He was abusive toward players and club employees, which led to Wizards’ majority owner Abe Pollin firing him."

He may have single handidly ruined Kwame's chances of even having a decent career. Brown may have never turned into a star but what Jordan did was ride him to death. Just like a thoroughbred needs to be nurtured and trained to maximize its potential, so did Kwame.

After being let go by the Wizards, Jordan resurfaced as a part owner and the Manager of Basketball Operations for the Charlotte Bobcats. That too has been a failure up to this point.

Jordan traded for Nazr Mohammed’s and his four year 28 million dollar contract. Have you gotten any production from Mohammed and the nearly $30 million you've paid him? Of course not. 

In 2006 Jordan selected Adam Morrison over Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay. Guess he was trying to recreate a Larry Bird type in Morrison but instead got stuck with a really bad moustache and little more.

  In 2007, Jordan signed Gerald Wallace to a 57 million dollar contract. He also added Matt Carroll with a four-year, 27 million dollar contract. How have those panned out for you MJ?

This leads us back to present day Michael. Jordan see's what is going on and it irks him. So he goes out of his way to take a shot at LeBron James. He does this because he knows that LeBron is the best poised player to legitimately threaten his legacy.

Kobe Bryant would be closer to possibly surpassing Jordan as the greatest of all time. However Kobe managed to mess that all up with a rape allegation years back along with a "Diva" like feud with Shaquille O'Neal. As a result Kobe lost the majority of his endorsements. Thus he can't manage to match Jordan as the global icon that Michael was.

Jordan is so intent on holding on to his label as the "G.O.A.T" that he decides to come out and fuel the fire. He elected to jump on the backlash bandwagon.

This is a result of fear. Jordan knows Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain were once deemed the greatest too and now they're hardly mentioned. Chamberlain passed away but how often does anyone see or hear about Kareem?

Jordan is determined to not have someone else eclipse him. He doesn't want the comparisons. Prefers not to have his legacy challenged.

Now he see's that James who was on pace to take all his records except NBA titles has set himself up to possibly match or surpass that as well. LeBron is now poised to make a legitimate run at several championships and every ring he adds on his fingers makes the "is LBJ better than MJ" talk that much louder.

So Jordan being the "epitome of class" that he is chose to make a back handed remark. I laughed when I saw this. I laughed because I saw a bloated, blood shot eyed shadow of what once was the greatest competitor in sports.

It was like looking at one of those neighborhood alcoholics who constantly relive their "glory days" by telling stories of how much better they were then the current town star. Worst of all the man who was once the most feared athlete on a basketball court seemed to hint of being afraid himself.

Jordan knows every day that passes his career and accomplishments get smaller and smaller in that rear view mirror. He sees that he can't hack it as an NBA genreal manager/ team president. Thus all he really has is his legacy. So he charges people in his own community just to catch a glimpse of him.

While Jordan was the best to play the game, he certainly has proved to be far from the classiest guy. Untold skeletons probably occupy his closet. Things which as Charles Barkley once said, shows why "parents should be role models", not basketball players.

The scary part is in a decade we may very well be calling James the greatest. At only 25 years of age and with two NBA MVP's already, who knows what James pinnacle will be. He may indeed end up with more rings, more points, more fame.

LeBron is the first player since Jordan to be such a marketing giant. James is seeking to conquer the world and has the potential to one day own a team as soon as his early to mid thirties. Yet Jordan decided to take a shot at him why?

Does Jordan truly believe that leaving your team because of a gambling addiction is worse than just wanting to move to Miami? Is the desire to play with another elite star in Dwyane Wade worse than quitting your team to play baseball?

In reality for everyone criticizing James "decision" and saying he will never be Jordan or Bird or Magic, that's fine because he doesn't need to be. In all honesty he may already be a better player than either Bird or Magic. He's definitely a better athlete than they ever were.

James is 6'8" and 250 lbs yet he's as fast as a guard. He can pass like Magic and sky like Jordan. If he had Birds jumper the guy would truly be the most incredible athletic specimen to play the game. Now remind yourself that he is just starting what will be the peak of his career.

The tragic side to all this is that Wade and James simply wish to be winners. Isn't that what sports is about? Trying to be the best "TEAM" and not just individual. Trying to win titles and not some imaginary ego contest of who is the "G.O.A.T"?

So why try and paint them in a negative way? Michael should know better. He should stay out of such melodrama. He has earned his stripes and has nothing to prove. Most of all he doesn't need to disparage what LeBron or Dwyane do.

Michael you should embrace these young guys. You should serve as a mentor and not just a "grumpy old man". Reason being you are their idol. You're practically everyone's idol. We all wanted to stick our tongues out like you and fly from the free thrown line. We all wanted to develop that smooth as silk fade a way jump shot. We all just wanted to be like Mike.


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